If you live in Michigan, your right to live with an emotional support animal is protected by law. As a resident of Michigan, landlords and housing providers must provide reasonable accommodation for your emotional support animal, even if the building or lease strictly prohibits all pets.
Michigan landlords cannot charge pet fees and deposits when it comes to emotional support animals. In addition, ESAs are exempt from certain building rules that apply to pets, such as limitations on size, breed, or weight. Recently, there was an attempt by lawmakers in Michigan to make qualifying for an emotional support animal more difficult in the state. However, that bill was vetoed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer because it would have violated the privacy of ESA owners and been incompatible with federal protections for emotional support animals. As a result, ESA owners in Michigan are still protected by federal Fair Housing rules as long as they are able to present a valid ESA letter.
How Do You Define an Emotional Support Animal in Michigan?
Emotional support animals assist people who suffer from emotional or mental health disabilities. By providing comfort with their presence, an ESA is a part of a person’s mental health treatment. While most emotional support animals are dogs andcats, plenty of other animals serve as ESAs, includinghamsters, gerbils,rabbits, birds, fish, turtles, and other small, domesticated pets.
An ESA doesn’t require any individualized task training but does need to be generally well-behaved and not cause a threat to the health and safety of others. ESAs are thus different from service dogs, which must be trained to perform a job or task relating to a person’s disability.
Emotional support animals are protected by the federal Fair Housing Act and guidance published by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD). If the tenant can provide an ESA letter, the landlord or housing provider must provide reasonable accommodation free of charge, even if the building bans pets.
What Is An ESA Letter in Michigan?
An ESA letter is a document from a licensed healthcare professional recommending an emotional support animal to help with a person’s mental or emotional disability. An ESA letter provides proof to the housing provider that an animal is an emotional support animal necessary to alleviate symptoms of a person’s mental health condition. Conditions that may qualify for an ESA include mental health diseases and learning disorders like depression, severe anxiety, panic disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and phobias.
An ESA letter should be on the healthcare professional’s letterhead and contain their license and contact information. The letter should also be signed and dated by the healthcare professional.
Who Can Write an ESA letter in Michigan?
It’s important that a healthcare professional with a valid license number writes the ESA letter, such as:
- licensed nurse practitioners
- licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
- medical doctors
- licensed clinical social workers (LCSW)
ESA letters can be obtained in person or online through a licensed healthcare professional that works remotely. Whether you obtain an ESA letter online or in person, if you are a Michigan resident, you should make sure the therapist or doctor is licensed to practice in Michigan. If you need a licensed professional that specializes in ESA recommendations, ESA Doctors can connect you to a licensed professional who provides their services online without the need for office visits.
A legitimate ESA letter in Michigan must be written and signed by a licensed healthcare professional licensed to practice in the state of Michigan.ESA Doctors, est. 2015
Can you board flights with your Emotional Support Animal in Michigan?
Until early 2021, emotional support animal owners were permitted to board flights with their animal companions. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. There were regulatory changes in 2021 that led to airlines banning emotional support animals on flights.
The only mental health assistance animal allowed on flights is psychiatric service dogs (PSDs). PSDs can board flights without any additional charge. Large PSDs can sit on the floor, and smaller PSDs can sit on the owner’s lap during the flight.
Psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform tasks relating to the owner’s mental health disability. This training requirement is the major difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA. A licensed healthcare professional can help determine whether you meet the standard of having a “disability” for owning a psychiatric service dog. They can write a PSD letter that helps establish whether you have a qualifying disability. If you’re on the road to owning a psychiatric service dog, ESA Doctors can connect you to a licensed healthcare professional knowledgeable about assistance animal rules and PSD letters.
How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors
Where You Can Adopt an ESA in Michigan
One of the most exciting parts of finding a pet or an ESA is the search! Sometimes, it takes a bit of time to find the right fur-ever friend for you. Once you find that connection, you’ll know. Michigan offers many animal rescue sites for you to find your ideal emotional support animal. The following are a few highly rated pet rescues.
New Hope Pet Rescue
New Hope Pet Rescue takes in unwanted animals and meets their mental and physical needs while waiting for their future homes. By saving animals from shelters that euthanize them, New Hope Pet Rescue hopes to find matches for these animals—giving them another lease on life.
Wishbone Pet Rescue
Located in Douglas, Wishbone Pet Rescue provides shelter and medical care to homeless animals. Wishbone Pet Rescue cares for over 3,000 animals each year, and their current goal is to save and rehome 100 percent of their animals. Their HQ in Douglas also has cage-free cat petting rooms.
Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary
Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary, located near Clarksville, is Mid West’s largest no-kill shelter. The sanctuary takes in abused, abandoned, and neglected dogs and provides medical care and rehabilitation. Their K-9 Enrichment program trains and socializes dogs, which prepares them well for their new families.
Where to Take Your Emotional Support Dog for Exercise
If you live in the Detroit area, here are a few dog parks where your doggo can roam freely and play with other dogs.
Detroit Dog Park
This dog park may be small, but it’s conveniently located in the city. And with plenty of dogs to socialize with, your furry friend won’t even notice the size. Detroit Dog Park can get a bit muddy when it rains, so do bring some towels if it’s cloudy.
Grand Circus Dog Park
The Grand Circus Dog Park is well-kept and spacious. With a very community-oriented focus, the park offers activities for their dogs and owners throughout the year. You may be able to catch their Dog Prom or Canine Karaoke and participate in the fun!
Behnke Memorial Dog Park
The Behnke Memorial Dog Park is a well-maintained fenced dog park with all the amenities for you and your dog. Drinking fountain for pets and people? Check. Poop bags and disposal stations? Check. Trees for shade? Check. Benches for two-legged animals? Check. It even has a fake fire hydrant and an obstacle course. What more could your doggy ask for?